The 150 psalms are a collection of religious songs that were originally used in the Temple worship of Israel. They include hymns, prayers, thanksgiving songs and royal anthems. Many of the Psalms are credited to King David, although there may well have been many other writers and editors. For example, a number are also said to have been written by the temple singers Asaph, Heman and Ethan. (cf 1 Chronicles 15:19; 16:7; 2 Chronicles 29:30)
The Old Testament describes David as a talented musician. He was skilled at the harp, sang in public and even invented musical instruments. (1 Samuel 16:14-23; 2 Samuel 6:5; 1 Chronicles 23:5; Nehemiah 12:36) His creative abilities enabled him to channel real emotion into his songs. As Pope Benedict XVI observed: “In the Psalms we find expressed every possible human feeling set masterfully in the sight of God; joy and pain, distress and hope, fear and trepidation: here all find expression.” (Verbum Domini, 24)
This particular image of King David forms part of a larger West Window dedicated to the Coronation of the Virgin Mary. It’s found with the church of Our Lady and St Joseph, Alcester. It pictures David with his trademark harp, as a way of associating him with the Psalms. The stained glass, which dates to 1910, is by Arthur Wybo, a painter-glazier from Belgium.
King David is included in the wider window because one of the Psalms, Psalm 45, speaks of the queen mother at the Messiah’s right. Since David was an ancestor of Christ and the Virgin, the Psalm has traditionally been considered a prophetic reference to the Coronation of Our Lady. King David is pictured in the window alongside his son, Solomon (featured in this article).
See the full image:
And the wider window of which it forms a part:
Where to find this work of art
Our Lady and St Joseph, Alcester
Read the relevant passage
On a similar theme
- From the Old Testament: In Christian art, King David is commonly pictured with a harp, as a symbol of his authorship of the Psalms.
- From the New Testament: The Benedictus, chanted by Zechariah, is an example of a New Testament psalm.